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Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Reviewing the Independent Spirit Award Nominations With a List of Superlatives

Eeek! The Film Independent Spirit Awards announced their nominations for the most extraordinary work in independent film today! This is the award I look forward to most every year because it is the one that has been most consistent in celebrating cinematic narratives that highlight a variety of cultures, generations, and characters that too often fall outside the confines of the Hollywood standard. And not because it's trendy to do so.

Before I get to the full list, I want to shout out some of my faves and appropriately show my outrage over the more offensive selections by compiling them as a list of superlatives. Here goes:


Mark my words: This will not be the only time you see Moonlight, Jackie, and Manchester By the Sea on a nominations list (in this case, for best feature). The buzz for each of these has been tremendous. But note, only the first two are actually quality (I'll share my full review of Jackie on the site next week). The third one is best described as #baitblandness (coined by my friend and fellow black girl critic, Rebecca Theodore-Vachon). Manchester By the Sea is just about the most Oscar-y movie you'll see this year, which is truly sad. It...zzzzzz. Sorry, I fell asleep just thinking about it.  


Another sleeping pill is the stuck-in-the-middle-of-nowhere drama, Certain Women, which I see is nominated twice--for director Kelly Reichardt and supporting actress Lily Gladstone. I'll say this, though: the film itself is a serious drag that is more frustrating than poignant. Yet, Gladstone is a real treat to watch. 


Loving, Christineand Hell or High Water are two of the best films I've seen this year, and I am STOKED to see them both represented here in several categories: Jeff Nichols (best director), Ruth Negga (best female lead), best screenplay (Hell or High Water), best first screenplay (Christine), Ben Foster (best supporting male), best editing (Hell or High Water). But where's the love for Joel Edgerton, who was able to provide such character depth to a real-life person who was virtually unknown to all but his wife? And-ohmygod--nothing for Rebecca Hall, whose performance is asa sad as it is triumphant in Christine? Disrespectful.


The best first feature nomination for The Fits made me smile, because I believe it truly represents the essence of the award in that it celebrates the work of a first time feature filmmaker Anna Rose Holmer and encourages her to create more. Is The Fits perfect? No, but it is inspired enough (far more inspired than fellow nominee, The Witch) to make you interested to see whatever Holmer does next. And that's kinda the point. 


The same goes for Viggo Mortensen's nomination for his performance in Captain Fantastic, a quirky little drama I imagine is far too "out there" for mainstream award attention. Goodness knows Mortensen is long overdue for some shine. 


Meanwhile, Elle continues to be a hot topic of discussion in the film community, and I see its star, Isabelle Huppert, is recognized for best female lead. I remain among those unimpressed with this film. In addition to my full review here on the site, I got into a great debate with Tim League about the film. 


And you know I think 13th, I Am Not Your Negro, and O.J.: Made in America are just the bee's knees, so I am happy to see Film Independent agree with me. Lastly, this cinematography nod for twisted thriller, The Eyes of My Mother (another one I'll review on the site next week) is so, so, so, well deserved. 

Okay, I'm done. For now, anyway. See the full nominations list below:

Best Feature

American Honey
Manchester by the Sea

Best Director

Andrea Arnold (American Honey)
Barry Jenkins (Moonlight)
Pablo Larrain (Jackie)
Kelly Reichardt (Certain Women)
Jeff Nichols (Loving)

Best Screenplay

Manchester by the Sea
20th Century Women
Little Men
Hell or High Water

Best First Feature

The Childhood of a Leader
The Fits
Other People
Swiss Army Man
The Witch

Best First Screenplay

The Witch
Other People
Jean of the Joneses

Best Male Lead

Casey Affleck (Manchester by the Sea)
David Harewood (Free in Deed)
Viggo Mortensen (Captain Fantastic)
Jesse Plemons (Other People)
Tim Roth (Chronic)

Best Female Lead

Annette Bening (20th Century Women)
Isabelle Huppert (Elle)
Sasha Lane (American Honey)
Ruth Negga (Loving)
Natalie Portman (Jackie)

Best Supporting Male

Ralph Fiennes (A Bigger Splash)
Ben Foster (Hell or High Water)
Lucas Hedges (Manchester by the Sea)
Shia LaBeouf (American Honey)
Craig Robinson (Morris From America)

Best Supporting Female

Edwina Findley (Free in Deed)
Paulina Garcia (Little Men)
Lily Gladstone (Certain Women)
Riley Keough (American Honey)
Molly Shannon (Other People)

Best Documentary

I Am Not Your Negro
O.J.: Made in America
Under the Sun

Best International Film

My Golden Days
Toni Erdmann
Under the Shadow

Best Cinematography

Free in Deed
Eyes of My Mother
American Honey

Best Editing

Swiss Army Man
Manchester by the Sea
Hell or High Water

John Cassavetes Award (Best Feature Under $500,000)

Free in Deed
Hunter Gatherer
Spa Night

Robert Altman Award (Best Ensemble)


Piaget Producers Award

Lisa Kjerulff
Jordana Mollick
Melody C. Roscher
Craig Shilowich

Someone to Watch Award

Andrew Ahn (Spa Night)
Claire Carre (Embers)
Anna Rose Holmer (The Fits)
Ingrid Jungermann (Women Who Kill)

Truer Than Fiction Award

Kristi Jacobson (Solitary)
Sara Jordenö (Kiki)
Nanfu Wang (Hooligan Sparrow)

The 2017 Film Independent Spirit Awards will be held February 25 and broadcast live on IFC at 2p/5e. Share your thoughts on the nominations below.


Brittani Burnham said...

I'm shocked Rebecca Hall didn't get a nomination for Christine. Wtf is that? I haven't seen the film myself but she had some buzz behind her name.

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